South Sudan President orders cease-fire after clashes
Parach Mach - JUBA, South Sudan (AA) - Both South Sudan's president Salva Kiir and rebel leader-turned-vice president Riek Machar have called for a unilateral cease-fire Monday in the capital Juba after several days of fierce battles between their respective forces.
Fierce fighting erupted in the South Sudanese capital since Friday, with heavy weapons such as tanks, helicopter gunships and artillery involved, leaving more than 270 people killed and thousands displaced.
South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei said on state-owned television that "all the commanders of these forces are hereby directed to cease any hostility and abide by this order, control their forces, and protect civilian population and their property."
"All the commanders deployed at checkpoints within Juba city, shall reduce and limit such checkpoints to only essential and important installations and institutions."
"I want to reciprocate the declaration of unilateral cease-fire," said Machar as reported by U.S.-funded Eye radio. "I am informing all the troops that have been fighting, defending themselves, to respect this cease-fire and to remain where they are now."
He added the cease-fire was to begin Monday evening.
South Sudan, recovering from two years of civil war after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar of a coup attempt in December 2013, was again plunged into violence last Friday by forces loyal to the same leaders.
The renewed fighting comes barely two months after the formation of a transitional government of national unity.
On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement saying he was shocked and appalled by the escalating violence in Juba and demanded that Kiir and Machar stop the violence.
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